On 4 March, the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a policy paper entitled ‘Change in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress‘ [pdf]. The document discusses the current challenges the United States is facing in the Arctic in the wake of growing security concerns and the ongoing effects of ice loss and climate change in the region. Of specific concern to US policy was the growing military presence of Russia in the Arctic, the legal questions over the status of the Lomonosov Ridge in the central Arctic Ocean, and the current state of American icebreaker ships.
The main Arctic-related topics discussed in the paper included the current state of American Arctic policy, the role of the US in key regimes including the Arctic Council and the UN Conventional of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which the United States is not currently a party to, and environmental challenges in the Arctic.
In addition to the Lomonosov Ridge question, other regional disputes were explained, including the demarcation process of the Beaufort Sea between Canada and the US, and the legal status of the emerging Northwest Passage, which Canada views as internal waters and the US and European Union considering the passage as an international waterway. The geopolitical situation in the Arctic, including the growing roles of China and Russia, were also included in the report.
A number of articles by Over the Circle were cited in the document, including recent coverage of China’s second icebreaker development, Greenland’s growing foreign policy interests, the emergence of ‘Track II‘ sub-governmental organisations in the Arctic, and the recent coverage of China-Russia-Norway cultural links in Kirkenes. Recent articles in The Diplomat by OtC writers Marc Lanteigne and Mingming Shi on the China-Greenland relationship were also cited in the work.
OtC was very pleased with this tip of the hat, and looks forward to continuing to cover news and political issues in the Arctic.